By Christie Melhorn, December 6 2017 —
From the thousands of candles that burn during Diwali to those lining graves on Day of the Dead and even those on your birthday cake, candles are significant across cultures and religions. Their warm, ethereal light is integral to many ceremonies as well as in daily life. Its evocativeness speaks to its value and effect on our well-being. Here are a few reasons why you should have more candlelit evenings beyond rose-petal filled date nights.
According to the Scientific American, synthetic light and the glaring screens of electronics confuse our brains and prevent melatonin production, keeping us awake longer. This can stunt sleep, making endlessly scrolling through Instagram before bed more tempting. Dimming the lights and reading or journaling by candlelight helps our bodies enter a rested state, making sleep come more easily.
Unwind the mind:
Research conducted by University of California anthropology professor Daniel Fessler suggests that humans have evolved to be drawn to fire and desire to manipulate it. He attributes this to the compelling effect of flickering flames. Candlelight may not be as bold as a crackling campfire, but this is beneficial if you’re trying to unwind. Candles capture the subconscious enough to stall anxious thought without demanding your entire attention.
Our sense of smell is often neglected or overwhelmed by artificially scented perfumes, lotions and other toiletries. However, natural aromas can have incredible mental and physical health benefits. Cinnamon might remind you of fond childhood baking sessions and peppermint can treat congestion. A wide variety of scented candles are available on the market.
However, be mindful that many candles are made of paraffin wax — a plasticy, petroleum product. According to a study conducted by the University of South Carolina, the process of sourcing and burning paraffin candles emits harmful pollutants.
Soy and beeswax candles are generally more expensive but are higher quality and more environmentally sustainable. However, expansive soy plantations are also notorious for straining the environment and surrounding communities. Before purchasing a soy candle, check that the company sources from a crop certified by Round Table on Responsible Soy. Local companies like The Beehive in Kensington and Milk Jar in Sunnyside sell minimally refined, handmade candles to warm your space with.